Cold temperatures and unexpected weather changes are the reality in the northern latitudes where many of us ride. Even though I’ve lived in Minnesota for decades, I’ve never used heated apparel before. As I prepared for a multi‑day tour of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula last October, I decided to remedy that situation by ordering an Aerostich Kanetsu Wind Blocker heated motorcycle vest to add some comfort to my late‑season ride. This electric vest gave me the feeling of the warm sun beating down on my back, especially on cold 35‑degree mornings on and off the road.
The Aerostich Kanetsu heated vest, which is made at the company’s factory in Duluth, Minnesota, and uses top‑quality stitching and zippers, proved to be hassle‑free. When ordering the vest, you specify size and the type of connection you need to hook it up to your motorcycle: BMW, SAE, or QuiConnect 2 (coaxial, which has a male‑and‑female connection). The vest’s power draw is 45 watts / 3.3 amps.
A size Large suits my 6‑foot‑2, 175‑lb frame perfectly (a detailed size chart is available on the Aerostich website), and the vest fits well underneath a jacket. It has a longer tail in the back to provide lower‑back coverage when seated in a crouched position. The vest has two pockets: one for storing the power cord and a larger one that the entire vest folds into for convenient stowage or a handy pillow for a roadside nap. Also available are optional zip-off sleeves ($97), which I added to the vest for additional insulation and to transform the vest into a jacket that can be worn off the bike.
With the vest on and powered up, I found the heat to be distributed evenly around my core as well as my neck thanks to the high collar. The power is switched on/off with a large, glove‑friendly lighted pushbutton that can be clipped onto the outside of your riding jacket. The vest provided plenty of warmth, and as the ambient temperature approached 50 degrees, I simply turned off the vest’s heat. Given the ongoing comfort, I found myself experiencing momentary guilt as my riding buddies went through the hassle of layering up and down throughout the changing riding conditions. They got tired of hearing me brag about how warm I was.
There are three versions of the Aerostich Kanetsu heated motorcycle vest: Airvantage ($247), which has an air‑adjustable fit and an outer shell made of Windstopper fabric; Windstopper ($197), also with a Windstopper outer shell; and Wind Blocker ($187), the version I tested, which has an outer shell made of windblocking TLTec fleece. Sizes range from S‑2XL. With this heated vest as a permanent addition to my saddlebag, I now look forward to rides on cold, blustery days.